Timeline: Starbucks COVID-19 Milestones 

Exterior of Starbucks store at dawn

Since early 2020, Starbucks has adhered to three guiding principles for navigating the pandemic:

① Prioritizing the health and well-being of our partners and customers
② Playing a constructive role in supporting health and government officials as they work to mitigate the spread of this virus
③ Showing up in a positive and responsible way to serve our communities

As we take stock of our journey to this point, we’ve created a chronological timeline that outlines some of the major standards and policies we’ve put in place to protect our partners and customers. We will continue to heed the advice of public health experts and make decisions based on sound science.  

If you’d prefer a summary of our actions throughout the course of the pandemic, please see Our Response to COVID-19.

2020 | 2021 | 2022


Mar. 4, 2020
Starbucks outlines precautionary steps during COVID-19 outbreak

  • Increased sanitizing 
  • Pausing use of personal cups and for-here ware in stores. 
  • Provided scenario-based info to store teams to report and support anyone impacted by the virus, including store closure decision-making support. 
  • All business-related travel restricted through March 31. 
  • Modified or postponed large meetings across offices in U.S. and Canada. 

Mar. 5, 2020
Navigating COVID-19 in China and lessons learned
Starbucks U.S. leverages lessons from Starbucks China on dealing with the early days of COVID-19.

Mar. 6, 2020
Putting into action care and concern for partners and customers
Letter from Rosann Williams, executive vice president and president North America for Starbucks, details processes and protocols following first confirmed case in a Starbucks store.

Mar. 9, 2020
Starbucks joins Seattle business and community leaders to provide support and resources through COVID-19
Starbucks joins COVID-19 Response Fund in Seattle to rapidly deploy resources to local organizations on the frontlines of the outbreak. Commits more than $2.5 million, including $250,000 from The Starbucks Foundation.  

Mar. 11, 2020
Caring for Starbucks partners during COVID-19
In addition to existing benefits, Starbucks announces additional mental health support and catastrophe pay for employees exposed or diagnosed with COVID-19. Benefit is 14 days.

Mar. 11, 2020
Kevin Johnson, Starbucks ceo, outlines steps company is taking for health of customers, partners and community
Starbucks announces stores are prepared to modify operations on a case-by-case, community-by-community, store-by-store basis – including store closure and limited seating – based on partner safety and local directives. 

Mar. 15, 2020
Starbucks will temporarily change to a “to go” model in U.S. and Canada stores
Starbucks implements social distancing in stores and moves to a “to go” model for at least two weeks in U.S. and Canada. 

  • Temporary closures for company-owned stores in high-social gathering locations, such as malls and university campuses 
  • Temporary store closures or reduced operating hours in communities with high clusters of COVID–19 cases

Mar. 16, 2020
Starbucks Transforms Mental Health Benefit for U.S. Employees
Starbucks announces new mental health care benefit in partnership with Lyra Health, which enables U.S. partners to receive up to 20 free therapy sessions.

Mar. 20, 2020
Starbucks temporarily moves to primarily drive-thru-only in U.S., confirms expanded catastrophe pay for worried partners
Starbucks closes access to cafes and reduces service to drive-thru and delivery only for two weeks in the U.S. Exceptions are made for cafes serving in or around hospitals and health care centers. 

  • Starbucks will pay all partners for the next 30 days, whether they choose to come to work or not. 

Mar. 22, 2020
Update on how Starbucks is supporting partners and communities during COVID-19
During two-week closure, Starbucks drive-thru stores stayed open and partners showed up to support each other. Starbucks Service Pay introduced for partners who choose to continue coming to work. 

Mar. 22, 2020
A message from Starbucks ceo Kevin Johnson: A time for resilience
Starbucks ceo Kevin Johnson recognizes the gravity of the times in a letter to partners and customers, committing to pay all Starbucks U.S. and Canada retail partners for 30 days, whether or not they come to work.  

“No partner should have to choose between work and their health,” he said.

Mar. 22, 2020
Message from Rossann Williams: Providing additional COVID-19 Partner Care
In a letter to partners, Rossann Williams announces Starbucks Service Pay, an additional $3 per hour for shifts worked as scheduled, and a new temporary food benefit and partner discount. 

  • Partner Food & Beverage benefit: Whether a store partner worked a shift or not, through September 26, 2021, they are eligible to receive one free food item and one partner beverage, per day, even when not working. 
  • Childcare: Starbucks expands the Care@Work program to provide support for partners needing additional backup childcare options as a result of school closures, which now includes the option for partners to choose an individual or facility to assist their children with distance learning.

Mar. 25, 2020
Starbucks offers free coffee to front-line responders
Starbucks announced it will offer free coffee to front line responders through May 3, 2020. In addition, The Starbucks Foundation donates $500,000 to support front-line responders. 

Apr. 1, 2020
Starbucks Playbook for Navigating COVID-19
Company establishes three guiding principles for navigating the pandemic:   

  1. Prioritizing the health and well-being of our partners and customers;  
  2. Playing a constructive role in supporting health and government officials as they work to mitigate the spread of this virus; and 
  3. Showing up in a positive and responsible way to serve our communities. 

Apr. 1, 2020
Using our scale for good around the world during extraordinary times
The Starbucks Foundation donates more than $3 million to support global COVID-19 relief efforts around the world, designed to partner with key organizations in order to ensure those who need the most help get it. 

  • The donations include: 
    • $1M contribution to the UN Foundation 
    • $1M contribution to Give2Asia 
    • More than $1M in local grants to support COVID-19 relief efforts in Canada and U.S. communities like Seattle and New York.  

Also, all temporary benefits for Starbucks partners extended through May 3. Thermometers provided in all stores.

Apr. 8, 2020
Taking care of Starbucks partners around the world through emergency relief
Starbucks contributes $10 million to establish the new Starbucks Global Partner Emergency Relief Program for partners facing extreme hardship as a result of COVID-19. 

Apr. 8, 2020
Starbucks provides update on recovery in China, impact of COVID-19 on U.S. Business
In an open stakeholder letter from ceo Kevin Johnson and cfo Pat Grismer filed as an 8-K, the company provided an update on business recovery in China, the impact COVID-19 has had on U.S. business and how it is well positioned financially to weather this crisis. The company remains optimistic about Starbucks resilience and is confident it will emerge from this crisis stronger than before.  

Apr. 16, 2020
Starbucks shares how it's prepared to "monitor and adapt" the customer experience through COVID-19
In a letter to partners, Kevin Johnson outlined the company’s transition to a new phase of operations in the U.S., best described as “monitor and adapt,” based on experience in China during COVID-19. As was the case in China, Starbucks will gradually expand and shift the customer experiences in stores based on a clear decision-making framework.

Apr. 16, 2020
A letter to partners: Comprehensive partner care as we adapt to COVID-19
In a letter to partners, Rossann Williams shares that many stores will reopen on May 4, Starbucks will extend Service Pay through the end of May and extend catastrophe pay. 

Apr. 16, 2020
Starbucks Joins in the Efforts to Support Food Banks in the U.S. and Canada
Starbucks announced additional efforts to support food banks in the U.S. and Canada as they struggle to meet the increased demand, shortages in food donations and logistical complexities related to their operations.   

  • Launches campaign with Feeding America 
  • Provides unsold or excess food and drinks to local food banks. Since closing its cafes in mid-March, Starbucks donated more than 700,000* meals, 62,000 gallons of milk and 1 million cans of Teavana Craft Iced Teas throughout the U.S. and Canada.  

To date, The Starbucks Foundation has donated over $5.5 million to support global COVID-19 response efforts.

Apr. 16, 2020
Starbucks partners offer support to frontline workers across Asia, donating free food and beverages

Apr. 29, 2020
More stores to welcome customers – here’s what to expect
Starbucks prepares customers for a new experience, focusing on the ability to use the Starbucks App to order and pay ahead of time and then pick up the order in drive-thrus. Grab-and-go also introduced, as well as Starbucks Delivers via Uber Eats.

May 4, 2020
The Third Place: Needed Now More than Ever
In a letter from the ceo, Starbucks announces plans to responsibly reopen more than 85 percent of company-operated stores by May 9 across the U.S. The Third Place concept shifts from physical space to mindset as communities seek to reconnect and heal.

May 18, 2020
The Starbucks Foundation teams with John Krasinski’s Some Good News
The Starbucks Foundation teams up with John Krasinski’s Some Good News to announce Some Good Merch, with Starbucks matching the first $1 million in proceeds for COVID-19 relief efforts. 

May 21, 2020
Building a Bridge to Our Future
Leadership letters to partners reiterate the need for Starbucks to be prepared as the public comes out of isolation and people crave connection and community. Launch multifaceted ad campaign designed to help customers find stores, check hours and use contactless payment. Hours and operations continue to be modified.

May 26, 2020
Letter from Rossann: A letter to partners: Partner care as we rebuild from COVID-19
Starbucks implements a new COVID-19 Leave of Absence policy for partners who prefer to take an unpaid leave through Sept. 30 and accrue up to 30 hours per week toward benefits eligibility.

May 28, 2020
The Starbucks Foundation: Supporting Community Response and Resilience during COVID-19
The Starbucks Foundation distributes more than $1 million to more than 400 local organizations across the U.S. and Canada to support COVID-19 community response, inspired and informed by Starbucks partners. 

Supporting coffee-growing communities: The Starbucks Foundation has donated $1 million to Mercy Corps to support COVID-19 prevention communication and extend urgently needed direct support across coffee and tea farming communities in Indonesia, Colombia, Guatemala, India and Ethiopia. To prevent transmission and protect lives and livelihoods, Mercy Corps is providing hygiene supplies as well as vouchers, clean water filters and other assistance to vulnerable families during this crisis. These efforts have reached more than 200,000 people to date.

Jun. 10, 2020
Restore and Build Resilience: Elevating the Customer and Partner Experience
Starbucks releases “Bridge to the Future” vision to stakeholders, including specifics on how the company is transforming customer and partner experience during the pandemic.   

Jul. 9, 2020
Protecting Partners and Customers – An Update on Facial Coverings
Facial coverings required in all company owned locations in the U.S. In select locations without mandates, customers not wearing facial coverings can order at the drive-thru, do curbside pickup or place an order for delivery. Recommit to playing a constructive role in supporting health and government officials and mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Release of “At-a-Glance” guide for customers.

Jul. 17, 2020
Starbucks ceo discusses the company’s playbook for navigating COVID-19
Kevin Johnson joins national Retail Federation to discuss Starbucks response to the pandemic and ongoing evolution of Third Place. He reiterates learnings from China, mask policy, and how Starbucks is navigating the next phase.


Jan. 5, 2021
Starbucks gives 2.2M cups of free coffee to front-line responders in December  
Starbucks update in midst of winter surge:  

  • 2.2 million cups of free tall brewed coffee to frontline responders in December.  
  • Donates $100,000 to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to support virtual mental health resources for front-line responders.  
  • Up to 40,000 frontline responders receive care packages in partnership with Operation Gratitude.  
  • Starbucks eGifts activated in “Recognition” category = $5 to NAMI.  

Since March 2020, The Starbucks Foundation has donated more than $1 million to support front-line responders, including delivery of personal protective equipment, essential medical items, care packages and handwritten letters and support for emergency assistance including mental health resources for first responders and health care workers. Since the start of COVID-19, Starbucks has provided: 

  • 4.2M+ free cups of coffee to front-line responders 
  • 400,000 front-line responder and deployed troop care packages as part of a coalition of partners with nonprofit Operation Gratitude. 
  • 120,000 cups of coffee and thousands of Starbucks gift cards to local hospitals and front-line responders 
  • 110 pallets of K-Cup pod donations to hospitals and military units

Jan. 18, 2021
Starbucks Joins the Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center (WSVCCC)
Starbucks joins the Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center (WSVCCC), a new statewide public-private partnership to boost vaccine distribution efforts established by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and the Washington Department of Health. Partners from across the company join the humanitarian effort.  

Feb. 8, 2021
Starbucks Offers Vaccine Pay and Expanded COVID-19 Benefits for Partners
Ongoing safety protocols in every store + updated policies: 

  • Up to two hours of paid time off for partners who choose to get each dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • An extension of catastrophe pay, temporary food and beverage benefit.  
  • Increased Care@Work benefit from 20 to 30 backup care days so that partners can continue to care for themselves and their families.  
  • Continued mental health resources, including 20 free therapy or coaching sessions for partners and eligible family members through Lyra Health.

Feb. 8, 2021
Starbucks begins developing a vaccine campaign with partners focusing on education, engagement, empowerment and enablement
The company also hosted educational sessions on vaccines with Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center.

Mar. 8, 2021
Hardship grants for partners announced
Another resource available to partners is the company’s CUP Fund, which provides grants for partners experiencing financial hardships. Starting March 8, 2021, partners can apply for an expedited 2021 COVID-19 CUP Fund grant for certain financial hardship needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, up to $500.

Apr. 18, 2021
Starbucks launches vaccine "make your plan" resources for partners to help them find vaccine locations in their community

Apr. 19, 2021
Starbucks Support of Safe and Equitable Vaccine Distribution
Starbucks offers up to 4 hours of paid time off if partners experience vaccine-related side effects and miss a scheduled shift within 48 hours of receiving each dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, up to two doses. (This is in addition to offering two hours of paid time off per dose for partners who choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine, up to two doses.) The company offers online tools for partners, as well as their friends and family, to create their vaccine plan and easily access state-by-state vaccine distribution and availability information. 

In addition, the company has made several investments in innovative programs that help increase safe and equitable access to vaccines, including a $250,000 donation to help fund Team Rubicon’s mobile vaccination site pilots, as well as a total of $50,000 to local Seattle-area hospitals Swedish and UW Medicine to support their efforts to deliver vaccines directly to underserved communities.

Apr. 30, 2021
Starbucks support for India's COVID-19 response
Starbucks announces support for partners in India:  

  • Starbucks provides $300,000 grant to Give2Asia’s India COVID-19 response fund.  
  • Reach to Indian tea and coffee communities.

Jun. 21, 2021
Starbucks provides stores with a toolkit on how to partner with community organizations to host popup vaccine events

Oct. 18, 2021
Starbucks launches internal weekly COVID-19 updates to U.S. store managers
As Delta surges and large businesses anticipate a mandate from the federal government requiring all employees get vaccinated, Starbucks launches internal weekly COVID-19 updates to U.S. store managers and an email account for partners to ask outstanding questions. The Q&A is released weekly and reflects a fluid situation.

Nov. 1, 2021
Booster Pay information shared with partners
All U.S. store partners who self-disclosed their vaccine information are eligible to receive 2 hours of paid time off for their vaccine booster shot.


Jan. 4, 2022
Letter to Starbucks partners: Vaccines, testing and supporting you in next phase of COVID-19
The Supreme Court strikes down the OSHA ETS vaccine mandate. Starbucks continues to provide guidance on safety measures, empowering store managers to make the best decisions in their local communities in accordance with local regulations.  

Jan. 10, 2022
Starbucks Support Center begins reopening in waves
Starbucks Support Center, which had been closed (except to office dependent partners (employees) since spring of 2020, reopens in waves, with safety precautions in mind. All non-retail domestic and international air travel will continue to require written evp approval during this period.